Bunny Terry reflects on life-giving gratitude and the value of curiosity.
As told to Ashley M. Biggers Photo by Gabriella Marks
Santa Fe New Mexican
Bunny Terry reflects on the value of curiosity. Bunny Terry is a multi-hyphenate: real estate agent, author, blogger, podcaster, philanthropist, mother, and grandmother. Today’s highlight reel didn’t always look like this. The Logan, New Mexico, native first visited Santa Fe at age 6 in 1966, when the Roundhouse was just completed. The City Different made a lasting impression. She knew instantly she wanted to live here — even if it took her until 2012 to do so. “I thought I had the world by the tail,” she says of her move to the capital city. Shortly after her arrival, however, she was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. She chronicles this unexpected turn in Life-Saving Gratitude: How Gratitude Helped Me Beat Stage IV Cancer. Here she shares her journey into real estate, blogging, and giving back — and her take on aging gracefully. My advocacy started almost immediately after I got well. Right after I was declared cancer-free, there was this depressing letdown. The disease had been the focus for so long. There was this thought, “What do I do now?” It almost seemed irrelevant to go back to work. I’d had surgery; there was a chemical imbalance in my body. I was looking for a place to put my energy. I got involved in a national organization to fight colorectal cancer. We had a fundraiser at the Lensic. After the event, I wrote a check and realized I’d sent the equivalent of an administrative assistant’s salary to the national organization. None of the money would stay here. I found Cancer Foundation for New Mexico, and the rest is history. In August 2021 I took over the board chair role. I have a practice. I have a scar from the port they built into my chest wall for chemotherapy. When I pull up in front of the Cancer Foundation offices, I touch my port scar to remind myself why I’m going. I have to be pretty compartmentalized between my volunteer work, my job as a real estate agent with Real Broker, LLC, and the I Love New Mexico blog and podcast. I’m also writing another book. I didn’t grow up thinking I wanted to sell houses. I was a single mom and had been a paralegal for 27 years. I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t sit in a room with another broken-hearted person who had suffered a huge loss and take notes. [Real estate] didn’t start out being a great love. But one of my tag lines is “changing lives one house at a time.” And it’s true. For me, if you can make someone feel safe and confident that they’re making the best decision they can make with the best information they have, that’s so important. I started doing online marketing during the 2007 real estate crash. I was living in Logan and learned blogging from [entrepreneur and Internet guru] Gary Vaynerchuk. He said, “If you’re going to write a blog, it has to be about something you love.” A friend writing a blog also told me I should write something so my kids could know me well. So I created the I Love New Mexico blog. There were no parameters — and there still aren’t. It’s just a forum for stories — about a long drive, my dad, or how to hold a tortilla. I want everyone to know what an amazing place we live in. [Terry’s Facebook page for I Love New Mexico now has more than 20,000 followers.] Part of my self-care is writing 1,000 words a day. If I don’t write 1,000 words a day, I’m kinda off. I was already doing the Life Saving Gratitude podcast [based on my book] when I launched the I Love New Mexico podcast. While I still think gratitude is huge — if you don’t have a gratitude practice, you’re missing some high points — I started having the same conversations over and over. I realized that it’s always entertaining to talk to people out there [in New Mexico] trying to find their way. I think the secret to aging gracefully is being endlessly curious. You don’t have to do something like go on a trip to Vietnam to follow your curiosity. You just have to stop in a store you’ve walked past and speak to the shop owner. Or speak to someone on the trail during a hike. It’s almost a micro-curiosity. You must stop, pay attention, and activate in some way. It opens your brain up a little bit. Having survived cancer, I’m not going to sit still. I try to sit still at the end of the day, but there’s this realization there are only so many hours left in my life. I’m protective of my time, at least in terms of where I let my brain go. I think that keeps me energetic.